Fund supports LGBTQ initiatives

The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, is funding a study to learn more about the issues facing the LGBTQ community in Southwest Florida. The intention is to better understand, identify and quantify the LGBTQ community population as well as the key issues that need addressed.

The data will help the Fund as well as other organizations in Southwest Florida identify gaps in available programs and provide supporting evidence for problems and opportunities currently being addressed. Knowing as much as possible about our community helps us provide programs, events, government representation and education that reflects our community.

The LGBT Community Fund takes a unique approach to awarding the funds. Anyone who donates $250 or more by May 1 gets a vote on the fund’s focus area.  Nonprofits then apply for grants to execute programs in the focus area.  This “multi-donor fund” is a group of donors working together to pool their resources so that together their philanthropy can do more.

The Fund has dedicated $16,000 to the study, which will be done with the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. However, in-depth studies are expensive, so the group has been seeking grants and support from other organizations to expand to more complex data.

The study was the third grant awarded by the LGBT Fund, during the 2018 grant cycle.

In 2017, the Fund awarded $15,000 to Avow Hospice to expand its LGBTQ programs. In addition to offering support services, Avow is providing education and outreach to elder care facilities, care givers and others concerning issues facing the LGBTQ community in need of eldercare or senior housing.

This grant promoted equality for LGBTQ community members by building on Avow’s current education and outreach programs through the development of a year-long community education program designed to meet the specific needs of the LGBT community in Southwest Florida. The audience includes eldercare service providers, friends, family, caregivers, and the public at large.

The first LGBT Community Fund grant was awarded in 2016 to Laboratory Theater’s “Staging Teen Success Through Theater” program. This mentorship-based theater program aims to connect youth, ages 13 to 18, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with successful LGBTQ adults within the theater community and licensed counselors.

These mentors support and nurture youth while they learn to better understand themselves and theater through research and development of plays, playwriting and scene study.

The next grant focus area will be voted on at a fundraising cocktail party on May 7, at the Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers. Donors giving $250 or more will be able to vote. If you’d like to attend, call Carolyn Rogers at 239-274-5900 or email cr*****@fl**************.com.

To donate or for more information, call the Southwest Florida Community Foundation at 239-274-5900 or visit the website at

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